Characterizing Human Analogical Reasoning

  • Beth Adelson

Abstract

Skilled problem-solvers often work by analogy as opposed to solving from scratch every new problem they encounter. And this is very much the case in engineering design. For example, a cantilevered beam provides an anology for a cantilevered bridge; as does a suspension bridge for a suspension building. With regard to invention, according to Samuel Morse’s diaries,24 initially, in trying to transmit telegraphic signals across significant distances Morse tried the strategy of building successively stronger generators. He found however, that the signals still degraded with distance. Supposedly the solution to the problem came to him in the following way. While riding on a train, he happened to look out of the window and notice a Pony Express depot, at which horses were being fed and watered. Morse realized that the relay station strategy constituted an analogical solution to the telegraph problem as wells. In a similar vein Edison’s diaries recount that he invented the kinetiscope by setting out to “do for the eye what he had done for the ear” with the phonograph.4

Keywords

Behavioral Model Causal Model Target Domain Analogical Reasoning Suspension Bridge 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1996

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  • Beth Adelson

There are no affiliations available

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